Sending snail mail with a delay
November 30, 2009 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Is there any way to send mail through US Post on a delay?

I'm traveling internationally from Dec 16 to Jan 5. I need to post mail around Dec 27 or so to arrive Jan 1 (approx). The mail includes checks for bills that cannot be paid electronically or early. Is there any way to post items before I leave so that they arrive around a certain date?

The easiest option is simply to give the stamped, addressed envelopes to a friend to post on the appropriate date but I'm wondering if there is any other option?
posted by tandemrepeat to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
Post date your checks. (If you date the check for Jan 1, 2010, it can't be cashed before then.)
posted by availablelight at 8:26 AM on November 30, 2009

Does your bank offer an online bill-pay option? Sometimes those allow a paper check to be cut and mailed. My bank (TCF) allows you to specify what day you want the payment to arrive. If you don't set up an electronic payment, then it assumes you want a paper check, and it prints and mails the paper check about 4 days before the due date. I use this feature to pay my credit union, which doesn't accept electronic payment.
posted by cabingirl at 8:28 AM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

Post-dating checks is not a surefire thing. US banks are allowed to disregard the date and process the check on presentation, and when this happened to me the bank refused to refund the overdraft fee.

I would suggest looking into service places like Mailboxes, etc. to do this for you, but my fear is that if the employees fail to do it at the right time you may have no recourse. Obviously you wouldn't have recourse against the friend either, but since they are a friend they might be more trustworthy (especially if you send them a reminder email) and obviously you wouldn't pay them for the service.

When you say they can't be paid electronically, I understand that to mean you can't do an EFT/direct deposit payment through your bank. With my bank (PNC), I can have paper checks issued and mailed on specific dates using my bill pay option. For example, I use this to pay my rent each month, the bank mails out a paper check to the landlord (I have sent family members checks this way, too). I am not sure if that is helpful, or if you have looked into that.
posted by bunnycup at 8:33 AM on November 30, 2009

If you date the check for Jan 1, 2010, it can't be cashed before then.

This is not true. A bank may decide to honor the check anyway unless you give them separate notice that you have issued a postdated check (and there may be a fee to do this). Or they may decide not to. But if they don't honor the check, it might be treated as a bounced check by others. A service provider that doesn't let you pay bills early probably isn't going to have a procedure for hanging onto postdated checks until they are ripe.
posted by grouse at 8:37 AM on November 30, 2009

Professional mail-forwarding services may have a delaying service.

posted by cmiller at 8:41 AM on November 30, 2009

[Wow--thanks, grouse and bunnycup. I'm really glad I know this now.]
posted by availablelight at 8:55 AM on November 30, 2009

I would say your idea from the question -- giving them to a reliable freind to post as required -- is the most straightforward.

And yes, 'postdated cheques' is a concept that banks treat lightly, in my experience. Ten years ago when I was renting a place, my landlord was in Europe for four months and, to complicate matters, I was away from home for work for three of those months as well. I gave him postdated cheques for rent for all four months and he left them with his bank with instructions on which dates to cash them (on the dates indficated on the cheques, of course). Two weeks later when I was a continent away and he was an ocean away, his bank cashed all four cheques -- or rather, tried to, as my chequing account that day contained just under three months' worth of rent. The two that cleared were cashed, and I was hit by my bank for the NSF charges on the other two. When I protested to my bank, I was told that the dispute was between my and my landlord and I should hit him up for compensation. When I added that neither he nor I requested that the cheques be cashed and that they were postdated for a reason, the bank rep told me that "there is no such thing as postdating a cheque. It is valid from the moment you sign it."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:26 AM on November 30, 2009

his bank cashed all four [postdated] cheques

Banks in Canada have agreed not to do this. But banks in the U.S. don't care.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:03 PM on November 30, 2009

Thanks all - appreciate the time taken to answer!
posted by tandemrepeat at 11:06 AM on December 1, 2009

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